Precious Sal sets Maitland alight and looks future Cup chance

Darren Russell with Precious Sal. PIC: Steve Whalland Race Images.

LITTER sisters Precious Sal (El Grand Senor x Surin’ Sal Jan ’15) and Go Lassie Go made the 1400km trip to Maitland worthwhile for Queensland trainer Darren Russell when they both saluted at the Hunter Valley track last Thursday.

Precious Sal stole the show on the day when obliterating her rivals in track record time, running a phenomenal 21.87 over the 400m sprint. The old record was 21.98, which was set by the John Finn-trained Winsome Jacko (El Grand Senor x Ramblin’ Ruby Apr ’13) over three years ago.

Russell said it was no surprise for him to see his bonny bitch set a new standard – despite having never seen the Maitland track prior to last Thursday.

“The track has been in very good order the last couple of weeks and she is a very good bitch,” Russell told Australian Racing Greyhound.

“She’s won nine races now and has run the best of the day every time – so it didn’t surprise me at all to see her run the record.

“I have got a pretty good strike rate at Maitland – I don’t normally come down unless I think I have a couple of winners, so it was good to see her get the job done.”

It was Precious Sal’s ninth win at start 20 – having now won five of her past seven starts and over $17,000 in prize money.

Russell said he isn’t doing anything different with her in recent weeks and explained her strong form is a result of learning how to race.

“She had bad habits to start with – she used to play up in the boxes bad and come out three or four behind them.

“After a few runs it seemed to click for her. She started coming out better and she is a pretty reliable little beginner now.”

Go Lassie Go made it a winning double for Russell on Thursday when leading throughout in 22.18 – landing her 19th win at start 45.

It was her second straight win, with the blue bitch relishing a drop in class after contesting some tough races at Albion Park in recent weeks.

“Precious Sal is pure speed and she probably has a few tenths on Go Lassie Go – but 450m is about as far as she wants to go whereas Go Lassie Go has won half a dozen at Albion Park.

“I was happy with Go Lassie Go’s win on Thursday – she is a very classy bitch and she is really consistent.”

The pair of winners continued Russell’s hot form – having now trained 10 winners and two second placings from his past 12 starters.

The respected conditioner has had plenty of fun with his dogs over the past few years, training 84 winners in 2017 – his most successful year on the track to date.

“It makes it a bit easier to get up in the morning – when you have a good run you’ve got to make the most of it,” he said.

Many of his good dogs in the past few years have been bred by Margaret Dwyer, who owns both Precious Sal and Go Lassie Go.

“There have been multiple city winners in each of the three litters Margaret has bred [from Surin’ Sal] so it’s been a very good breed.

Tripum is her older half brother and he made the Melbourne Cup final for me and a lot of the others have been able to run too – she has been a great producer.

“I have been training for Margaret for about five years now and we’ve had a good run together. Farmer’s Gold was from Surin’ Sal’s first litter and he ran third in the Gosford Cup.

“He had the biggest motor of any dog I’ve had but he used to come out four lengths behind them and we couldn’t get him out of the habit.

“Thankfully this litter seems to have a bit more early speed.”

Russell says there is nothing in cement for his duo over the next few weeks, but a trip back to NSW is likely for Precious Sal.

“I’ll probably take her back to Maitland in a couple of weeks and give her a 450.

“If she handles that ok I will have a look at something like the Bulli Gold Cup – but she will definitely be there for the Maitland Cup if everything goes to plan.

“Hopefully I am bringing a team down for the Maitland Cup this year.”

Heats of the Group 2 Maitland Cup will be run on April 5.